There’s probably a good chance you’ve heard Hatton Smith’s name before; but in case you haven’t, chances are it will soon become familiar. As the CEO of Back Forty Beer Company, you might’ve picked up a six-pack of Back Forty Beer at the Piggly Wiggly. More importantly, as an active advocate for the United Way of Central Alabama (UWCA), you might’ve been included in his philanthropic efforts as a very active advocate for United Way of Central Alabama (UWCA).
Hatton’s involvement with UWCA stretches back nearly five decades when he began working with Royal Cup Coffee. Fast forward a few years, and he’s been a long-time supporter and a major figure in almost every phase of the UWCA Annual Campaign. Whether Hatton was serving as Campaign Chair or, ultimately, as Chairman of the Board, he was preaching UWCA’s mission — and that has led to some incredible results.
“What’s great about Birmingham, what’s an enormous source of pride…is the United Way,” said Hatton. “It represents the philanthropic spirit of our community.”
Most recently, he received the 2021 Mervyn H. Sterne Volunteer Award for leading the Major Gifts Division of the annual campaign. After being a part of the Dunne Circle himself for years (that’s the leadership level for donors who make an annual gift of $25,000 or more), he volunteered recruiting new members to the Dunne Circle. The Dunne Circle is named after former UWCA President and CEO Daniel J. Dunne.
Among UWCA’s 2021 notable accomplishments for the annual campaign is the addition of 41 new Daniel Dunne Circle members. Part of what made these efforts so successful, Hatton said, was the incredible team he worked with.
“They were all outstanding people who really believed in the cause of the United Way,” said Hatton. “So that was huge. Each volunteer contributed a different perspective and had different contacts, which they were passionate about. They were able to convert their passion to people stepping up and becoming members of the Dunne Circle.”
But, despite this incredible accomplishment, Hatton didn’t sound surprised. Birmingham is unique not just because of its award-winning restaurants or burgeoning tech scene, but because of who makes up the city.
“Birmingham has a very philanthropic heart,” said Hatton. “There were so many people who are already motivated and believed in the United Way. So, you had motivated United Way supporters who, when presented the case of, ‘Okay, we would like to move up to another level to help fund this campaign and meet a community need,’ they understood.”
Partner agencies across the six-county footprint UWCA serves rely on this support. From nonprofits that provide free meals to hungry families to centers that offer mental health counseling, donors can feel confident their dollars go toward helping someone worthy of that gift.
It’s been this way for nearly 100 years, starting when UWCA served only 31 agencies. Due to growing advocacy on behalf of supporters such as Hatton and others, the number of people UWCA reaches continues to grow each year.
“The United Way is the only real community-based need philanthropy,” said Hatton. “It covers all sorts of groups — going back to its history when it was called the Community Chest. It’s really a gift to the community.”
To learn more, visit the Tocqueville Society page on United Way of Central Alabama’s website here.